UAV mission in Tajikistan in Support of Disaster Risk Reduction

Two villages in the Pamir Mountains and their watersheds of about 23km2 were mapped in resolutions of 15 and 10cm each using professional mapping UAVs. The imagery will be used to inform future and current remediation activities, disaster risk reduction training and risk maps in the communities.

Many villages in the Tajik Pamir Mountains are at risk for mudslides, which typically occur during the summer months when ice and snow melt is increased. One recent mudslide in Barsem village had released 1.5 million m3 of debris into the village, destroyed homes and had formed a natural dam in the river flowing through the valley. The build up of debris had completely stopped the water flow for 20 min, and caused a natural build-up of water. The lake that formed as a result of the water build up destroyed further homes and is threatening the power station upstream.

 

The second site, Darjomj village, is at risk of such potential mudslides, the last one having occurred some decades ago. In addition, the adjacent river frequently changes its course, potentially threatening usable land and buildings.

The imagery collected from both sites will be used by Focus Humanitarian Assistance and the national government to create educational risk maps and analysed for erosion patterns in the mountain areas above the villages and along the riverbeds.

The mission took place in the second half of July 2016 and involved 50 flights with 3 mapping UAVs as part of the Drones in Humanitarian Action Initiative funded by DG ECHO. A formal case study write up will be published in the following weeks.

 

Hiking up to the first launch point at 2,800 meters.

Hiking up to the first launch point at 2,800 meters.

Once on the plateau with the drones in the air, the main task was monitoring the flights on the screen.

Monitoring the flights on the monitor

Monitoring the flights on the screens

In spite of the typical dust storm, well visible in the background, the imagery turned out surprisingly clear. This image was taken from the village level on top of the debris that had been washed into the village last year after the severe mudflow.

Working at village level in the plane of debris that was formed after a devastating debris flow in July 2015.

Working at village level in the plane of debris that was formed after a devastating debris flow in July 2015.

Sometimes, our launch points were much greener:

The team is discussing how to proceed while the drones fly.

The team is discussing how to proceed while the drones fly.

The soft grass protects the body of the drone when landing and this plateau over the village is an ideal landing spot.

One of the verdant plateaus from where several flights were launched and landed.

One of the verdant plateaus from where several flights were launched and landed.

One of out highest launch points at about 3600 meters ASL. There is still snow visible in the background:

Early morning was the best time to fly. In this picture, volunteers line up to "rescue" the drone before its landing. Intermittent rocks and uneven terrain made safe landings difficult.

Early morning was the best time to fly. In this picture, volunteers line up to “rescue” the drone before its landing. Intermittent rocks and uneven terrain made safe landings difficult.

The view over Darjomj village:

View over Darjomj village nestled in the mountains of Bartang Valley

View over Darjomj village nestled in the mountains of Bartang Valley

The mapping team in the mountains above the village at about 2,400 meters.

The mapping team in the mountains above the village at about 2,400 meters.

The mission was funded by EU Humanitarian Aid.

The mission was funded by EU Humanitarian Aid.